Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis kill 5

They come hours after Israel and Palestinian Authority sign pact involving 3G services

Israeli policemen inspecting bullet holes on the windscreen of a Palestinian attacker's car at the scene of an attack close to the West Bank Jewish settlement of Alon Shvut on Thursday.
Israeli policemen inspecting bullet holes on the windscreen of a Palestinian attacker's car at the scene of an attack close to the West Bank Jewish settlement of Alon Shvut on Thursday.PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM • Five people, including an American, were killed as Palestinian attacks targeted Israelis in a Tel Aviv stabbing and a West Bank gun and car-ramming assault,in a renewed burst of deadly violence following a few days of relative calm.

The fatalities on Thursday - among the bloodiest day for Israelis since the latest spate of violence erupted on Oct 1 - included three Israelis, an 18-year-old American student and a Palestinian passer-by.

Police said that in the first attack, a Palestinian from the West Bank stabbed Israelis at the entrance of a store that served as an informal synagogue in Tel Aviv, killing two Israeli men, aged 32 and 51, and wounding a third in the upper body.

Witnesses said the attacker had then tried to force his way into the prayer room. Worshippers, however, blocked the door.

"I heard cries and my Arab employee told me, 'He's stabbing'," 65-year-old Israel Bachar, who runs a nearby print shop, told Agence France-Presse.

"I left my store and I saw a man on the ground being stabbed. I threw a piece of wood that was on the ground and the terrorist got up and ran after me. I hid in a nearby store."

Mr Bachar said the victim, a long- time friend, died in his arms.

Soon after, in the Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank, a Palestinian man opened fire with a sub-machine gun from a car as he passed vehicles stopped in traffic. He then crashed his car into another vehicle, according to witnesses and police reports. Three people were killed and several others were injured.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page: "Behind these terrorist attacks stands radical Islam, which seeks to destroy us, the same radical Islam that struck in Paris and threatens Europe."

Seeking more understanding from around the world for Israel's security challenges, he added: "Whoever condemned the attacks in France must condemn the attacks in Israel. It's the same terrorism. Anyone who does not do so is acting hypocritically and blindly."

Mr Netanyahu said Israel would "settle accounts" with the perpetrators, exact a price from their families and destroy their homes. The homes of several Palesti-nians charged in attacks have been demolished in recent weeks in what the Israelis describe as a deterrent measure.

The violence since the start of last month has killed at least 86 people on the Palestinian side, including one Arab Israeli and at least 15 Israelis, as well as the American yeshiva student. Many of the Palestinians killed have been alleged attackers, while others have been shot in clashes with Israeli security forces.

Police identified the assailant in the Tel Aviv stabbing as a father of five from the village of Dura in the southern West Bank. The Israeli news media said he had a permit to work in Israel and was employed at a restaurant near the scene of the attack. He was overpowered by passers-by and taken into custody.

Thursday's killings came hours after Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed a long-awaited agreement granting Palestinian cellphone carriers 3G high-speed cellular services in the West Bank. The move, intended to bolster economic development, had indicated a possible effort, or desire, to return to calm after weeks of violence.

West Bank cities have many smartphone users and a burgeoning high-tech industry, but Palestinian carriers have been forced to make do with 2G data bandwidth.

Under the interim peace accords of the mid-1990s, Israel controls the allocation of radio frequencies in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority exercises limited self- rule. For the Palestinians, lack of 3G service has been a sore point and, they said, a symbol of how the Israeli occupation has held them back.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis kill 5'. Print Edition | Subscribe